Horrid Henry is a horrid boy who has been continuously horrid since he first appeared in Francesca Simon’s first Horrid Henry book in 1994. Henry remained horrid in a further 19 books, an animated TV series and now he gets his own horrid movie.
While many children will be familiar with Henry, parents accompanying them to the cinema may not. Fortunately, the film quickly establishes Henry as a suitably horrid boy. And he is not alone, as we are introduced to many characters who are even more annoying than Henry, particularly Henry’s younger brother, Perfect Peter.
It is soon revealed that Henry’s school is under threat of closure due to the machinations of a devilish villain (Richard E Grant’s Vic Van Wrinkle in this case). And it is up to Henry to save the day - he feels the best way of achieving this goal is to enter the local talent contest.
Not hitting enough clichés there, Henry later continues his quest to save the school by entering a TV game show, hosted by Dick & Dom (well known for kids' shows in the UK). Dick & Dom’s style of hosting in this instance really stretches the limits of bearability in a movie which already feels padded out.
It’s not all bad, however. For a movie about characters which have only ever been hand drawn before, the style remains remarkably true to the source material, the cartoony atmosphere pervading every shot. Smaller kids might not make the connection to the animated series but this still feels very much like a cartoon, ensuring that kids are sure to be delighted by the juxtaposition of styles.
Many of the characters are rather one dimensional, but this doesn’t stop them growing on you. Even Henry’s irritating nature begins to appeal by the end. And Perfect Peter manages to get caught up in his own little adventure which gets you rooting for him.
A lot of the more marginal characters are only trotted out so fans of the series can get a look at them in the flesh but Anjelica Huston is an exception. Playing Henry’s teacher, Miss B Battleaxe, she manages to gleefully steal every scene.
Overall, Horrid Henry is a movie which many kids will thoroughly enjoy and will sit comfortably in many DVD piles. It will be watched by gaggles of children every time it airs on TV, but it has no place in a cinema, and certainly not in 3D.